Olympic athletes call for climate action

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Olympic athletes say inaction on climate change affect the culture and economies of winter sports communities.

Meaningful climate treaty needed, Olympians say

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. government may not exactly be leading the world in addressing global warming, but U.S. Olympic athletes are. Many of the skiers, skaters and snowboarders competing at the Sochi games have already seen climate change affect their communities, and using the spotlight of the quadrennial event, they’ve sent a letter to world leaders asking for effective action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Altogether, 105 Olympic athletes signed the letter, and 85 of them were Americans, with the rest hailing from Norway, Estonia, Switzerland and Germany. In their letter, the athletes asked world leaders to: “Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.”

The athletes pointed out that time is running short, and that governments need to reach a meaningful agreement at next year’s climate talks in Paris.

“Previous climate conferences have ended with nothing to show for it, but Paris needs to be different,” U.S. crosscountry skier Andy Newell wrote in a blog post at Climasphere.org. “We can’t risk inaction any longer and we’re asking our world leaders to come together in the spirit of something bigger than just our individual goals.”

As athletes competing on global world cup circuits in their respective sports, the signers of the letter have seen how a global warming affects the winter season. Cancellations of races have become more frequent compared to just a few decades ago, especially at lower-elevation venues in Europe and Scandinavia.

As a native of Vermont, Newell expressed concern that nearly half the resorts in his home state may have to close within the next 30 years, with significant economic and cultural impacts to local communities.

Read Newell’s full blog post here.

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